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Utopia and Civilisation in the Arab Nahda


  • Date Published: March 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108740562

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About the Authors
  • Exploring the 'Nahda', a cultural renaissance in the Arab world responding to massive social change, this study presents a crucial and often overlooked part of the Arab world's encounter with global capitalist modernity, an interaction which reshaped the Middle East over the course of the long nineteenth century. Seeing themselves as part of an expanding capitalist civilization, Arab intellectuals approached the changing world of the mid-nineteenth century with confidence and optimism, imagining utopian futures for their own civilizing projects. By analyzing the works of crucial writers of the period, including Butrus al-Bustani and Rifa'a al-Tahtawi, alongside lesser-known figures such as the prolific journalist Khalil al-Khuri and the utopian visionary Fransis Marrash of Aleppo, Peter Hill places these visions within the context of their local class- and state-building projects in Ottoman Syria and Egypt, which themselves formed part of a global age of capital. By illuminating this little-studied early period of the Arab Nahda movement, Hill places the transformation of the Arab region within the context of world history, inviting us to look beyond the well-worn categories of 'traditional' versus 'modern'.

    • The first in-depth study of the little-known early phase of the Arab Nahda movement in the mid nineteenth-century
    • Situates the Arab Nahda within a global historical context
    • Combines intellectual and literary material with elements of social history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'an important contribution to studies of the cultural and intellectual revival of the nahda … which the Arab world witnessed in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries … opens new perspectives for understanding the nahda.' Hilary Kilpatrick, Journal of Islamic Studies

    'erudite and thought-provoking … a welcome contribution to post-national and materialist accounts of modernity in the Arab world.' Samah Selim, Global Intellectual History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108740562
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.431kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Who made the Nahda?
    2. The discourse of civilization
    3. A place in the world
    4. An Arab utopian

  • Author

    Peter Hill, Northumbria University
    Peter Hill is a Junior Research Fellow in Oriental Studies at Christ Church, University of Oxford. An intellectual and cultural historian of the Arab world in the long nineteenth century, he has lived and studied in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. He has published articles in journals including Past & Present, the Journal of Arabic Literature and Intellectual History Review.

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